Benefits of Exercise (There’s More than just Weight Loss)

In my last post, I talked about why movement and making time to move is important not only for a healthy body, but for a healthy mind-body connection.  After uploading that post, I proceeded with my day and heard an ad on the radio marketing a discounted gym membership for listeners looking to shed that last 10 pounds before swimsuit season.  Waiting in line at the grocery store, I noticed magazines promising a workout to tone your tummy in 7 days or a “Summer Shape-Up” routine to target every zone in “just minutes a day”!

Honestly, I’m just fed up with seeing that kind of marketing everywhere I go.  Why can’t people just exercise and move without weight loss being the ultimate goal?  Can’t we just move our bodies because it feels good?  Why does a progressive action to exercise imply that we’re unhappy with how we look and that we’re doing said action to lose weight or tone-up?

In the modern media, exercise is a means to lose weight and nothing else.  And while exercise does aid in burning fat and building muscle, we cannot forget about the countless other benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss!  Regular exercise can:

  1. Reduce stress & improve mental clarity (great for combating depression & anxiety),
  2. Positively impact one’s self-image & self-love,
  3. Prevent brain cell degeneration,
  4. Increase productivity & increase one’s ability to relax,
  5. Encourage normal body function to fight disease (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure),

And so much more!  Movement of all kind is beneficial to the body; stretching elongates targeted muscles and the surrounding connective tissues to elicit muscle relaxation and increase flexibility.  Joint mobilization stimulates the body’s production of synovial fluid to allow freer joint movement (which is vital as we get older) and increases kinetic (bodily) awareness.

kahyoga3For a healthy mind-body connection, exercise is key.  When we habitually associate exercise with weight loss, it can make us feel that if we’re not losing weight as a result of exercise, our efforts are wasted and then discourages us from continuing.  Get out and move not to get down to a certain size or to fit society’s bologna standards; do it to show your body that you love and accept it just as it is, and that’s why you want to take care of it.

Do it because it feels good and you deserve to feel good!

~

Sources:

  • OnHealth
  • Huffpost
  • Benjamin, Patricia. Tappan’s Handbook of Massage Therapy. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2016. Print. Pg 291.

Beyond the Scale

I wrote this several weeks ago but have been hesitant to share it.  Whilst rereading it, I realize it comes off a little… depressive.  But I’ve decided to leave this post as-is because these are all things that I felt at the time I wrote it.  But I think it’s important to note that I do not only feel this way.  Losing weight has been a struggle, but it’s also helped me to learn more about myself.  And while some days are hard, most days are great and I’m a very happy and grateful human.  This is all a part of my journey and I treat each experience as an integral part of that.


As life would have it, shortly after I posted about my weight loss I realized that I wasn’t healthy. On paper, sure, I was healthy- my weight was the lowest it’s been in years which, of course, has other positive bodily effects. But I didn’t feel good.

I was falling into detrimental habits that I am unfortunately all too familiar with. I was obsessing over the number on the scale. People noticed my weight loss and told me how great I looked and congratulated me on such a feat. This should have motivated me but instead it tore me apart. My weight directly affected my self-worth, and as the number on the scale went down my esteem went up- and vice-versa. Suddenly, I only saw myself as a number on the scale.

Feeling like I had no purpose other than to be skinny, I turned to food for comfort and started gaining weight… Again. My mind began to fog. Those around me noticed my weight loss, so surely they would notice my gain. My face isn’t as thin as it was only four weeks ago; my waist not as slim. In my mind, everything I was eating was “bad”. I felt guilty eating anything. When I was home alone with only my dog I would actually put food back because JEEZ terriers are so judgmental!

In hindsight, I can tell that my behavior over the past month has been destructive. But I didn’t realize how bad things had actually gotten until two weekends ago when Jeff and I went away. On our mini-vacation, the hotel we stayed at offered a buffet breakfast. I could have eaten every single item lined up there and even if I felt like I was about to burst I would keep eating just because it was there. While I was eating delicious pancakes all I could think about was the next thing I was going to eat. It was here that I realized just how much of what I was eating was being eaten just because it was there. Starving or stuffed, food was my life whether I even enjoyed it or not. I always had to be eating. I felt ashamed.

In the beginning, I was determined to lose weight to look “good” in a bikini. I didn’t want to look back on my wedding photos and hate what I saw. I wanted to feel good about myself. But as people began to notice my weight loss, my reasons why morphed into just one reason: I wanted people to think that I was skinny; and if they didn’t, it meant I was nothing. (I realize that this has everything to do with me and NOTHING to do with my family and peers who only saw how hard I was working to reach my goal and were graciously congratulating me for it.)

But at the time, I couldn’t see what was happening. I was losing weight and so my self-worth and esteem were high and that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t stop thinking about the leftovers in the fridge. It didn’t matter that no matter how much I lost it would never be enough. It didn’t matter that if I felt I’d indulged too much I would degrade myself with words like “fat” or “pig” or “ugly” or “dumb”. It didn’t matter because every day I was getting skinnier.

My mind wasn’t healthy;  I was so detached from my body and what it truly needed.  For some, like myself, there is so much more to losing weight than eating less.  For me, it’s a lifestyle change, and as I’m adjusting my whole life I’m having to deal with stuff from every part of my life that has brought me here.

A lifestyle change isn’t always just about eating less, but may include changing how we handle problems or learning to eat mindfully instead of eating just because it’s there.  Everyone’s journey is different, and this is a part of mine.  I’m having to realize why I feel compelled to eat a whole bag of chips instead of a healthy-sized serving.  I need to recognize when my body feels satisfied instead of just eating until I can’t breathe.

I wanted to share this because this is honestly where I’m at.  It’s certainly not pretty, but I promised to share the good, the bad and the ugly parts of my journey.  Going through this has been difficult, but I think it’s also made me a better person.  Writing this has helped me learn more about myself and by sharing it here, I hope to shed light on an issue not often discussed when people talk about losing weight.

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Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  I’m taking some time to reevaluate and prioritize my long-term goals.  Bodily health means nothing to me if my mind and soul aren’t also healthy.  My personal journey is about finding balance in my body and in life, and my blog is a direct extension of that.  Holistic health considers all parts of the body and though for the moment I’ve lost sight of that, I’m hopeful and know that each struggle only makes me stronger.

~

My Weight, Disordered Eating & Where I am Now

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  My feelings toward my body and food and the relationship between the two have always been skewed.  When I was in grade school, I was bullied for being overweight.  I couldn’t wear the clothes my friends were wearing because I couldn’t fit into them.  When I was maybe 11 or 12, my behavior with food changed; this was about when I started dieting.

I remember being on the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers; there may have been other programs that I tried, but I can’t recall them.  The South Beach Diet was the worst- I ate bland, unappealing food and I don’t remember seeing much in the way of results.  I look back on Weight Watchers more fondly, because when I first started this program I lost 50 pounds.  Now that I’m able to look back on this time in my life with fresh eyes, I believe this is when my food addiction festered.

I treated food much like an alcoholic would treat their vice.  I would sneak food in the middle of the night so that no one would see me.  I would lie to my friends about what I was eating because I was embarrassed to admit the foods that I liked were “bad.”  I didn’t like to eat in front of others because I was so self-conscious.  Weight Watchers teaches accountability, and one of the tricks to the program is to write down everything that you eat.  At the time, I was so embarrassed by what I was eating that I would eat in private so no one would see me, and I would then pretend that it didn’t happen.  This went on for years, and I still struggle with some of these behaviors today.

As I got older, I developed breasts and thighs and started to gain back the weight I had lost in grade school.  I also stopped consciously watching what I was eating so I kept gaining.  Being a high schooler, my weight and my health weren’t a priority.  But people in my life would make off-hand comments about my weight.  I even had a boyfriend at the time whose friends mocked me for “exceeding his weight limit.”  I pretended that I didn’t notice these things or that they didn’t bother me.  This is when I started purging.

This period in my life didn’t last long; I at least had the mind to realize that purging wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t going to give me the results I wanted.  When I graduated high school, I kind of forgot about my weight.  I knew I was overweight, but I had a boyfriend who paid me attention so I wasn’t really thinking about it.  Doctors would voice their concern towards the correlation between my age and my weight but, again, it wasn’t a priority so I shrugged it off.

My behavior with food was still reminiscent of an addiction, but it truly became more of a coping mechanism.  During any period of stress, moment of anger or sadness or even happiness, I would either drown my sorrows in a bag of chips or reward myself with a chocolate bar (or four).  This behavior is still one I’m battling today.

In 2015, I began schooling to become a massage therapist.  Throughout the course of the program, I realized how important mind, body and soul wellness is.  It wasn’t until I graduated that I finally started getting serious about my health.  I started to incorporate exercise into my routine, but it was sporadic- one week I’d exercise six times, then nothing for 3 weeks.  When I moved out of my parents’ house, I started eating far less junk food.  I began introducing vegetables into my diet and drinking more water.  I felt better overall, but I was still overweight.  In late November 2016, I started Weight Watchers, again, and I’m still on the program now.

As I’m typing this, I’ve lost 31.6 pounds so far.  Four months ago I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at 221.2 pounds.  As I’ve been on this health journey, I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning- not just about wellness, but about myself.sidebysidenovmar2sidebysidenovmar

The media and internet is so flooded with information about what’s “good” and “bad” for us, visuals about what we should look like and diet plans that guarantee you’ll lose 10 pounds in the first week or your money back!  I want to share my journey here so that perhaps someone will see a realistic, holistic and intuitive approach to bodily health and mind and soul wellness.  This isn’t a quick fix.  This isn’t a “Biggest Loser” success story.

This is me: a real woman making real changes to promote a balanced life.  It can be ugly, it can be raw, but I want to show that it can be done and it is so worth it!

Welcome to my journey.

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